French director, actor, screenwriter, dialogue writer and director, Robert Hossein died this Thursday, December 31, 2020 at the age of 93, according to information revealed by Le Point.
Following the Covid-19
His wife, actress Candice Patou, confirmed the news to AFP. He died “this morning in the hospital”, after “a respiratory problem”, she said. The Vosges-#Matin daily specifies that the actor, who has shared his life for very long years between Vittel and Paris, died of the Coronavirus in a clinic in Essey-lès-#Nancy, in Meurthe-et-#Moselle.
Robert Hossein was the passionate and indefatigable organizer of great popular shows that he put on with faith firmly rooted in his body. On its own, it has attracted a huge part of the French theatrical attendance with mega-productions such as “A man named Jesus” (700,000 spectators), “The mail case of Lyon” (600,000) or even “Notre Dame of Paris “(480,000).
But long before filling the Palais des Sports and advertising for hearing aids, Robert Hossein was first a sex symbol. In the 60s, more than a man, he embodied a fantasy, the one that embraced Michèle Mercier in “Angélique, marquise des anges”. The handsome and dark scarred Joffrey de Peyrac gives it an international aura.
It is very far from the jet set that he grew up, between a maid’s room in Paris – “where my family pissed on the landing” – and multiple boarding schools. Born on December 30, 1927 to an Iranian Zoroastrian composer father and a Russian Orthodox mother, Robert Hossein was first an imaginative boy, eager to skip school. “My parents were beautiful but without a circle. I was on my own. I was the puss in boots always inventing a stratagem to survive”, he says in his book “Light and Dark” (2002). “I pulled myself away, I went to the cinoche. On my return, I played all the roles, I embellished, I mixed all the universes that made me dream (…) I haven’t changed”. After the war, he decided at 15 to devote himself to the dramatic art. He follows the courses of René Simon, lives from expedients in Saint-#Germain-des-#Prés. There he meets Sartre and Genet and plays in “Haute surveillance”.
In 1950, he replaced at short notice Daniel Gélin in “The snow was dirty”, a theatrical adaptation of a novel by Simenon. There he meets Frédéric Dard. “I saw a species of insolent wolf disembark, looking hungry, badly dressed, with a glance of embers”, remembers at the time San Antonio who will become his great friend. He made his film debut in 1948 in “Le Diable boîteux” by Sacha Guitry, then he gave the reply to Brigitte Bardot in “Le repos du guerrier” (1962). He becomes Roger Vadim’s favorite actor (“Le Vice et la Vertu” in 1963, “Barbarella” in 1968).
In 1955, he directed his first film, “The bastards go to hell”, an adaptation of the San Antonio play where he plays with his first wife, Marina Vlady. He also directed the thrillers “#Pardonner nos offenses (1956) and” Toi le venin “(1959). At the age of 34, he married Françoise Giroud’s daughter, Caroline Eliacheff, just aged 15. Arrived the” Angéliques “who consecrate him as an international star.
Reims, depression and historical figures
However, in 1970, the “Casanova de midinettes” as Marguerite Duras called it, decided to leave everything. “I was getting nowhere, I was becoming a slave to my image”. “I’m not worldly for a penny. These rounds of legs, these balls, I don’t give a fuck,” he declared several years later. Alone, he left for Reims where he founded his “popular theater” and a school from which Anémone and Isabelle Adjani would leave. Its slogan: “theater as in cinema!”. A vision that makes him mix lights, music, classical texts and great feelings. Eight years and seventeen creations later, Reims is recognized on the national scene, subsidies are pouring in. Paradoxically, he decides to leave and plunges into a deep depression.
From 1978, he put on a show every two years in gigantic rooms where he preached hope. From Julius Caesar to John Paul II, he recounts, with historian Alain Decaux, historical figures. His work becomes a mass theater that speaks to the heart. “The Earth is in danger of death. I said to myself: it takes a universal awareness to get us out of the shit and reorganize the Earth, the sand, the sea and everyone,” he shouted in his voice of rockery.
At 50, he was baptized at the same time as his son Julien, the fruit of a third marriage. “It is not me who puts on the show, God helps me with everything”, liked to repeat this mystical and often bombastic humanist. “If the public comes out of my shows with the desire to love their neighbor a little more, with the desire to fight for more fraternity, with the disgust of injustice and inequality, then I I’m happy, I think I was helpful “.